“I’M AN ENGLISHMAN IN ANKARA”
Whether your visit in Turkey is business related or just aimed towards visiting the touristic wonders of Turkey the first encounter you have at the Turkish border is with the government officials with stern faces sitting behind a glass window of the international flights customs in the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. You get confused when they ask you unrelated questions with a heavy Turkish accent and you start panicking. Do not worry! Sit back, relax, take a cup of coffee and a bagel (maybe a croissant if you prefer French cuisine) and we will take it from here.
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Now, as a foreigner you have legal protection and your rights are stipulated within the Turkish Constitution as well as 6458 Foreigners and International Protection Code. In the later legislation you can find plain and easy to comprehend rules that run you through the whole process before you even pack your luggage.
The best part is that you can access the Code in different language versions on the official website of the Ministry of Interior Directorate the General of Migration Management here –
“Law on Foreigners and International Protection” drafted by the Ministry of Interior was adopted in General Assembly of the Parliament on 04.04.2013 and dispatched to the President. Law 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection (YUKK) was approved by the President on 10.04.2013 and published in the Official Gazette No. 28615 dated 11.04.2013. Click for Word version of Law on Foreigners and International Protection.
Here are the links to the different versions of the code for easy access:
Yabancılar ve Uluslararası Koruma Kanunu (Turkish)
ЗАКОН ЗА ЧУЖДЕНЦИТЕ И МЕЖДУНАРОДНАТА ЗАКРИЛА (Bulgarian)
قانون حمایت بین الملی و (Persian)
قانون الأجانب والحماية الدولية (Arabic)
Art. 5 et seq. of the 6458 Foreigners and International Protection Code codify
- The process of Entry to the Turkish Border
ARTICLE 5 –
(1) Entry into and exit from Turkey shall be through the border gates with a valid passport or travel document.
- Control of Documents
ARTICLE 6 –
(1) Foreigners should submit their passport or, travel document or documents to the officials at the time of entry into and exit from Turkey.
(2) Document checks regarding border crossings can also be carried out on vehicles while they are on route.
(3) Foreigners using transit areas at airports may be subject to [document] checks by the competent authorities.
(4) At the time of entry into Turkey, checks shall be carried out to determine whether or not the foreigner falls within the scope of Article 7.
(5) In the implementation of this article, persons regarding whom a comprehensive check is required may only be held for a maximum of four hours. Within this period, the foreigner may either return to his country at any time or may wait for the completion of the actions for admission into the country, not limited with the four-hour period. The principles and procedures governing comprehensive control actions shall be stipulated in a Directive.
- Citizens whose entry is prohibited(Art.7)
Foreigners who shall be refused to enter into Turkey
ARTICLE 7 –
(1) Foreigners who shall be refused to enter into Turkey and turned are those:
- a) who do not hold a passport, a travel document, a visa or, a residence or a work permit or, such documents or permits has been obtained deceptively or, such documents or permits are false;
- b) whose passport or travel document expires sixty days prior to the expiry date of the visa, visa exemption or the residence permit;
- c) without prejudice to paragraph two of Article 15, foreigners listed in paragraph one of Article 15 even if they are exempted from a visa.
(2) Actions in connection with this Article shall be notified to foreigners who are refused entry. This notification shall also include information on how foreigners would effectively exercise their right of appeal against the decision as well as other legal rights and obligations applicable in the process.
- Prohibition of Entry (Art.10)
Notification of the entry ban to Turkey
ARTICLE 10 –
(1) The entry ban shall be notified to foreigners who are within the scope of paragraph one of Article 9 by the competent authority at the border gate when they arrive to enter into Turkey, whereas, foreigners who are within the scope of paragraph two of Article 9 shall be notified by the governorates. The notification shall also include information on how foreigners would effectively exercise their right of appeal against the decision as well as other legal rights and obligations applicable in the process.
- Mandatory Visa (Art.10)
Visa requirement, visa applications and competent authorities
ARTICLE 11 –
(1) Foreigners wishing to stay in Turkey for up to ninety days shall obtain a visa that indicates the purpose of their visit from the consulates of the Republic of Turkey in their country of citizenship or legal stay. The period of stay in Turkey provided by the visa or visa exemption cannot exceed ninety days within a period of one hundred and eighty days.
(2) In order for visa applications to be assessed, it is required to lodge the applications in compliance with the procedure.
(3) Visas shall not confer an absolute right of entry.
(4) Visas shall be issued by the consulates and, in exceptional cases by the governorates in charge of the respective border gates. [The assessment of] applications lodged with consulates shall be determined within ninety days.
(5) Visas for diplomats of foreign countries may be issued ex officio to by the embassies of the Republic of Turkey. Such visas shall immediately be reported to the Ministry and the Foreign Ministry in accordance with the general visa procedures. These visas are not subject to fee.
(6) When necessary in view of the national interests of Turkey, a visa may exceptionally be issued ex officio by the ambassadors’ of the Republic of Turkey. Visas issued for such purposes shall immediately be reported to the Ministry and the Foreign Ministry in accordance with the general visa procedures. These visas are not subject to fee.
(7) The principles and procedures governing visa types and processes shall be stipulated in a Directive.
ARTICLE 12 –
(1) Visa for entry into Turkey shall not be required from those foreigners who are:
- a) exempt from visa obligation pursuant to agreements to which the Republic of Turkey is party to or with a Council of Ministers’ decree;
- b) holders of a residence or a work permit valid on the date of entry into Turkey;
- c) holders of a valid “reserved for foreigners” passport issued pursuant to Article 18 of the Passport Law № 5682 of 15/07/1950;
ç) within the scope of Article 28 of the Turkish Citizenship Law № 5901 of 29/05/2009.
(2) Visa requirement for entry into Turkey may not be sought from those foreigners who:
- a) disembark at a port city from a carrier, which has been obliged to use Turkish air and sea ports due to force majeure;
- b) arrive at seaports for the purpose of touristic visits to the port city or nearby cities, provided that their visit does not exceed seventy two hours.
- Transit in the Airport Visa (Art.14)
Border visa [Visas issued at border gates]
ARTICLE 13 –
(1) On exceptional cases, foreigners arriving at border gates without a visa, may be issued a visa provided that they document their [intended] departure from Turkey within due time.
(2) Border visa shall be issued by the governorates in charge of the respective border gates. Governorates may delegate this authority to the law enforcement unit stationed at the border. Such visas shall authorise stay in Turkey for a maximum of fifteen days, unless a different duration is determined by the Council of Ministers.
(3) The medical insurance requirement may be waived for humanitarian reasons for persons issued a visa at the border.
Airside transit visas
ARTICLE 14 –
(1) Foreigners who shall be transiting through Turkey may be required to obtain an airside transit visa. Airside transit visas shall be issued by the consulates, to be used no later than six months.
(2) Foreigners who would be required to obtain an airside transit a visa shall be jointly determined by the Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Foreigners who cannot apply for Visa (Art.15)
Foreigners who shall be refused a visa
ARTICLE 15 –
(1) Visa shall be refused for those foreigners whose/who:
- a) passport or travel document is not valid at least sixty days beyond the expiry date of the visa requested;
- b) are banned from entering Turkey;
- c) are considered undesirable for reasons of public order or public security;
ç) are identified to have a disease posing public health threat;
- d) are suspects of or, are convicted of, a crime(s) that are subject to extradition pursuant to agreements to which the Republic of Turkey is a party to;
- e) are not covered with a valid medical insurance for the duration of their stay;
- f) fail to supply proof of the reason for their purpose of entry into, transit from or stay in Turkey;
- g) do not possess sufficient and sustainable resources [for the duration of their stay]
ğ) would refuse to pay receivables, originating from overstaying the duration of visa or a previous residence permit duration or, that should be enforced and collected pursuant to the Law on the Procedure of Collection of Public Receivables № 6183 of 21/07/1953 or, debts and fines enforced pursuant to the Turkish Penal Code № 5237 of 26/09/2004.
(2) Nevertheless if it is deemed to be of interest to issue a visa to such a foreigner who falls within the scope of this article, a visa may be granted subject to the Minister’s approval.
- Visa Cancellation (Art.16)
Cancelation of visas
ARTICLE 16 –
(1) Visa shall be cancelled by the issuing authorities or the governorates in cases when/where:
- a) it is determined that the visa is exploited for fraudulent purposes;
- b) there is erasure, scraping or alteration detected [on the visa sticker];
- c) the visa holder is banned to entry Turkey ;
ç) there is strong doubt as to the foreigner may commit a crime;
- d) the passport or travel document is false or has expired;
- e) the visa or the visa exemption is used outside its purpose;
- f) the circumstances or documents on the grounds of which the visa was issued are determined to be not valid.
(2) In case of a removal decision issued with regards to the foreigner within the duration of the visa, the visa shall be cancelled thereof.
Notification of visa processes
ARTICLE 17 –
(1) The processes related to the refusal of a visa application or cancelation of the visa shall be notified to the visa applicant.
Authority of the Council of Ministers related to visa and passport procedures
ARTICLE 18 –
(1) The Council of Ministers is authorised to;
- a) Enter into agreements determining the passport and visa procedures; and under circumstances when considered necessary, unilaterally waive the visa requirement for citizens of certain states; facilitate visa procedures, including exemption from visa fee; and, determine the duration of visas.
- b) Introduce terms and conditions for [the using of] passports belonging to foreigners [with regard entry into or stay in or exit from Turkey], in case of war or other extraordinary circumstances to cover a region of or the entire country.
- c) Take all measures setting specific conditions or restrictions regarding entry of foreigners into Turkey.
Here you go, now you know every aspect of foreign enquiry in the Turkish Customs maybe even better than the customs officials. For any possible negative encounter it is wise to have an officially printed version of the 6458 Code in your native language and in Turkish. This way if you have any problems in the customs you can show your rights pointing your finger to the related provision in the Code and enjoy as the sternness melts away into an apologetic smile on the faces of the customs workers.